(We had a little technical glitch this afternoon. The site was redirecting improperly. Steve BC is constantly quietly refining things here – and every once in a while you get a glitch. I made Steve aware of it and he quickly had it fixed. Sorry if any of you were briefly inconvenienced. What a godsend that man is!-CJ)
By Charlie Johnston
Many readers thought they felt a hint of despair in my last piece. There was a certain grief in coming to the conclusion that the culture is lost. It certainly had a good run. I liked the culture I was born into: it had its problems, but was designed in a way that those problems could be resolved without violent strife. It has been a long time since I have seen anything but vestiges of that once robust culture. I am glad that people sensed how weighty and carefully thought out my conclusion was. Quite the opposite of despair, though, the conclusion lifted a cloud that had been hanging for some time. All it means is that instead of restorers, we are called to be missionaries.
My commitment has always been to revive a joyful culture of life, family, and freedom under God. Seeking to repair the existing culture was merely a means to that end. There are other means for all of us. Let’s talk a bit about that.
Start with the certainty that God is good, He intends our good, and we find fulfillment in discerning His will for us and loving our neighbor. Imagine your life as being a great spring that bubbles forth from high atop a mountain. In time, it will make a stream that courses all the way to the bottom of the mountain, where it will form a clear, refreshing pool. Along the way, it will encounter many obstacles and pass through many impurities. Paradoxically, those impurities actually purify it on its way. It will just go around most obstacles. Those that are substantial will cause it to well up for a time, forming a subordinate pool, and then continuing on its way around the great obstacle. Understand that when you unite your will to God’s, it is more relentlessly implacable than gravity – and WILL find its way to form that clear pool at the finish of its course. All the obstacles and impurities along the way just add a little drama to your course as they purify you.
Know also that before time began, from all eternity, God knew every soul He would ever create. He chooses when to deploy each soul so it has the greatest potential effect to draw other souls to Him. Therefore, waste no time in speculating what your life would be had you been born to a different age. God intended you for this age from all eternity – and it is the only age He intended you for. Since God wills the good of His people, every soul He has chosen to live their earthly lives in this age has the potential to carry the heavy load brought on by mass apostasy and faithlessness. YOU were made for these times. Set your jaw like flint, take up the mantle God has laid out for you, and joyfully proclaim His kingdom in what you say and what you do.
I am not a big believer in withdrawal from the world. Rather, we are to be in the world, but not of the world. Jesus makes it clear, when warning of the “leaven of the Pharisees,” that we can be infected by the worldliness of those who put their hope in things. But in Matthew 13:33 He says the “kingdom of heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened.” We are to leaven the world with Godliness while taking care not to be infected with the leaven of worldliness. We can’t leaven the world with Godliness if we withdraw from it, even if it does prevent us from being overcome by that worldliness. We are all called to go forth. Even in this, we must rely on Him rather than our own plan.
At Thanksgiving, my son and my nephew told me they have dialed back on boycotts, simply because one would have to boycott just about everything these days. My nephew said you would have to live in the woods as a hermit to avoid companies that are toxic (then grinned while noting that I had done just that, but not forever.) It is true that even the greatest saints are, to some extent, products of their time, even when they transcend those times. When we swim in befouled waters, we are going to ingest some impurities. I agreed, noting that I pretty much stick to the most egregious cases now and don’t spend a lot of time researching the ugly practices of companies, as it could easily become a full-time job.
The fact is that worldly practices are not bad and counter-productive because they are condemned by God: they are condemned by God because they are bad and counter-productive. The satan has succeeded in seducing the world into believing his venomous lies – that power and things are the source of happiness. The political and philosophical fads that have taken hold of the world will collapse soon enough under the weight of their own internal contradictions. In some ways, it is better for souls that they should prevail for a time. As long as those fantasies are not governing, enthusiasts can continue to delude themselves with their false promises. Put to the test, though, they quickly prove false. This will force believers of these falsehoods to either enter into a pathological state of denial even as the world collapses around them – or consider something new. The prodigals always think they have cleverly found a better way, and always end by eating the husks of corn fed to swine to fend off starvation. It is our duty to give those who repent of their folly example of what brings happiness and to welcome them back into the fold of the Father. To do that, we must care well for our Father’s house and remain visible, if not overly demonstrative. Our peace and our joy, both in prosperity and in trial, will bring many back to God if we live it steadfastly. As a commenter so pithily said here recently, we ARE the ambulances of God.
I have long argued that had we been the sort of people who would listen to Our Lady’s warnings at Fatima, there would have been no need for the Fatima apparitions in the first place. Thus, I think Fatima was less a warning to keep us from getting lost at sea than a sort of lighthouse to guide our way back to God after we willfully became lost. That is what we are called to be; lighthouses. It will keep us steady and will be a light in darkness for those who willfully chose the dark when they realize what it is they have chosen. The most important thing, then, is to live the faith well, building each other up and acting as lighthouses to those going further into the darkness. This does not mean that either I or you should ignore the world or its outrages. If the running coup attempt is successful for a time, I will march. But the march will be less to overturn the usurpers and more to hearten the faithful. Any one person, in these terrible times, who chooses the good no matter what the cost, sparks new hope and new resolve in millions. If we seek to be holy as Our Father in heaven is holy and inspire others through our courageous fidelity to do the same, the darkness can only recede from our culture. Those who have become champions of that darkness must recede with it or perish in the light.
I am shifting the tenor of this website a little, to hearten the faithful and to help us all in the missionary work we are now called to. The meatiest new pieces will go up on the weekends by Sunday. On Tuesdays, I will usually put up short takes. On Thursdays I intend, once or twice a month, to put up a biographical account of individual signs of hope – people who are living the faith in simple (or great) ways every day, often without notice, but always with great love. I will introduce you to some of the people who form the TNRS team at this website and across the country, along with Priests, religious, pastors and laymen who are enduring difficult times with great fidelity. On the other days, I will have more guest columns and reprints of notable insights from other sites. The first-person story of the fires in California a month ago, written by Deon Mangan of our Sacramento team, was an amazing, heartening piece of living the next right step under God during a time of extreme peril. I have a piece coming from a woman who was once a pro-abortion feminist, but found God and has joyfully embraced Him. If you have a story that can build others up, send a note to Beckita or me. Now more than ever, I want this community to grow and thrive as a community, that we all may build each other up.
Our job now is to give effective witness of Christ, to boldly proclaim the Kingdom with power, conviction and clarity that sparks new hope and new resolve in all we touch. Let that be your guiding light, your Stella Maris, in this coming year of judgment. We ARE the ambulances.